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"The longest journey is the journey inward." D. Hammarskjöld

Confronting the Anxiety of Academic Writing

Last week I gave a webinar for the Text and Academic Authors Association on confronting the anxiety of academic writing. Since the presentation, which I’ll embed below, was relatively short, …

Source: Confronting the Anxiety of Academic Writing

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A practical guide to punctuation marks

Dear All,

The web page which is provided by the link given below offers a handy guide to the usage of punctuation marks. When you click on them, you will be directed to a section that illustrates their functions through example sentences. It has also a separate page pertinent to the two major styles of English punctuation, namely American and British. Therefore, you can review the differences between these two styles in this respect.

You can check out this online resource via http://www.thepunctuationguide.com/index.html.

I hope it serves you in good stead.

Best regards,

Y. Aksoyalp.



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5 ways to use a dictionary for academic writing

Julie Moore, a lexicographer for the new Oxford Learner’s Dictionary of Academic English, shares her top 5 ways to use a dictionary to teach academic writing skills.

Source: 5 ways to use a dictionary for academic writing

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Verb tenses in academic writing

Dear All,

The document which is available in the reference part below provides recommendations with regard to the choice of verb tense in fundamental sections of research papers and theses  namely, Abstract, Introduction Methods, Results, Discussion and Conclusion.

I hope that it could contribute to the writing process of your academic manuscripts.

I wish you all a productive day.

Best regards,

Y. Aksoyalp.


Using Tenses in Scientific Writing (n.d.). Retrieved December 12, 2016, from http://services.unimelb.edu.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0009/471294/Using_tenses_in_scientific_writing_Update_051112.pdf

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Six common paragraph problems

The text given below has been retrieved from https://medium.com/advice-and-help-in-authoring-a-phd-or-non-fiction/how-to-write-paragraphs-80781e2f3054#.2f6tq87j8

Six things most commonly go wrong in writing paragraphs:

1. The author starts with a backward link to the previous paragraph, instead of a fresh topic sentence. Readers may conclude that this is simply ‘more of the same’ and so skip onwards to the next paragraph. Even those who persist may become confused — what is the paragraph really about? Is it the start sentence? Or the different point given in the now ‘submerged’ topic sentence that comes second?

2. The paragraph begins with a ‘throat-clearing’ sentence, or some formalism or other form of insubstantial sentence (or perhaps several such sentences). For instance, authors might begin by discussing a caveat, a definition, a difficulty or a methods issue that form part of the provenance of the argument to be made. The effect is again to bury the real topic sentence one or two sentences deep in the paragraph. Readers may conclude on a quick look that the whole paragraph is just an insubstantial caveat, or navel-gazing of the familiar academic kind, and so skip forward, missing the change of focus completely. If they do persevere reading they may not correctly identify the now submerged topic sentence, and then find that the wrap sentence seems unjustified or tendentious, because it does not fit with the apparent topic.

3. The author starts the whole paragraph with another author’s name and reference, for instance: ‘Harding (2007: 593) argues …’ This is a beginning especially beloved of some PhDers and other unconfident authors, creeping forward with their argument propped up on the supports of other peoples’ work. Some postgrad students will construct whole sets of paragraphs in this manner, running over several pages, every one of which starts with another author’s name, especially in ‘literature review’ sections. They mistakenly believe that this way of proceeding will convince readers that they have closely read the literature. But when the first words of a paragraph are someone else’s name, the author is inadvertently signalling: ‘Here follows a completely derivative paragraph’ — or section if this pattern is repeated. So critical readers’ common reaction is to downgrade or skip the paragraph (or sequence of such paragraphs) and move on.

The easy solution to this problem begins by not thinking in terms of individual authors, but focusing instead on the schools of thought, or ‘sides’ in an empirical controversy, that the authors to be cited represent. Write a clear and free-standing topic sentence. Then explain the core ideas or propositions of one or more schools of thought involved in the body sentences. Relegate author names to the supporting references that come at the ends of sentences, where they belong.

4. A paragraph stops abruptly, usually because the author has become aware that it has got too too long. Commonly this occurs because token sentences have multiplied — perhaps because the planned brief exposition of an example or analysis of an exhibit have become unwieldy. Usually authors here make an enforced ‘emergency stop’, and then commonly write up what should have been the wrap sentence as the beginning of the next paragraph. The first paragraph then has a sequence of Topic, Body, Tokens but no wrap sentence. And the next paragraph 2 starts with the displaced wrap1 sentence, and has a buried topic2 sentence. Readers will get a bit lost at the end of paragraph 1 here, as a token or body sentence ends the paragraph with no form of recap. And they will read the displaced wrap sentence as signalling the topic of paragraph 2 (which it doesn’t). They may puzzle through paragraph 2, feeling that it was not what was promised at the start, or that it does too many things. Or again they may skip forward here, feeling that paragraph 2 only repeats.

5. Paragraphs get too long, extending beyond the acceptable research text range of 100-200 words to take up 300 words or more. Often this happens because tokens have multiplied or swollen outside the limits that can be handled easily. But because of their partly digressive character the author is reluctant to recognize the need to create separate paragraphs to handle them. Especially when they discuss attention points or exhibits that are complex and not designed to be self-contained and easily understood, body and token sentences may blur together, creating text where the mainstream argument becomes hard to distinguish.

The solution to very long paragraphs has to be brutal. Once a paragraph passes 250 words, it must be partitioned, usually as equally as feasible, and separate topic and wrap sentences provided for each part. If the problem arises from an overlong exposition of a token or an exhibit, then the author needs to find a solution that allows a partial digression to be smoothly handled. If a paragraph falls between 200 and 250 words this might be retainable, so long as the wrap sentence can still reconnect readers back to the (now rather distant) topic sentence.

6. A paragraph is too short. For a research text this occurs if it falls below 100 words, and especially if it consists of just one sentence or is less than 50 words. Normally, short, bitty paragraphs like this look terrible on the printed page of a journal or a research book, and they undermine the usefulness of paragraphs as argument building blocks. Short paragraphs happen because an author is unsure what to say, or has not properly thought through how a point or a set of points fit together or can be sequenced into the overall argument. Some reflect miscellanies of points that the author has not acknowledged as such. Other single sentence paragraphs […] should be incorporated into longer nearby paragraphs but have not been — for example, in starting lists or sequences of connected paragraphs. […] short paragraphs should always be merged into their neighbours, so that they disappear.


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“Today’s topic is another key strategy: making effective transitions. A lack of comfort with making transitions is one of the causes of the short paragraphs I mentioned last week; when we do n…

Source: Transitions

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Effective Data Visualization | SAGE Publications Ltd

Source: Effective Data Visualization | SAGE Publications Ltd

Effective Data Visualization

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5 Web tools to help you manage and organize citations

Source: 5 Web tools to help you manage and organize citations

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A 10-step guide to make your research paper abstract more effective

The following post has been retrieved from http://www.editage.com/insights/a-10-step-guide-to-make-your-research-paper-abstract-more-effective#

I hope this informative text will stand you in good stead when you are required to write an abstract for your academic manuscripts 🙂


An abstract is like a movie trailer. It offers a preview, highlights key points, and helps the audience decide whether to view the entire work. Abstracts are the pivot of a paper because many journal editorial boards screen manuscripts only on the basis of the abstract. If your abstract does not grab their attention and make a good first impression, there is a good chance your paper will be rejected at the outset. Moreover, even after your paper is published, your abstract will be the first, and possibly only, thing readers will access through electronic searches. They will only consider reading the rest of the manuscript if they find your abstract interesting.

For studies in the humanities and social sciences, the abstract is typically descriptive. That is, it describes the topic of research and its findings but usually does not give specific information about methods and results. These abstracts may also be seen in review articles or conference proceedings. In scientific writing, on the other hand, abstracts are usually structured to describe the background, methods, results, and conclusions, with or without subheadings.

Now how do you go about fitting the essential points from your entire paper— why the research was conducted, what the aims were, how these were met, and what the main findings were—into a paragraph of just 200-300 words? It is not an easy task, but here is a 10-step guide that should make it easier:

  1. Begin writing the abstract after you have finished writing your paper.
  2. Pick out the major objectives/hypotheses and conclusions from your Introduction and Conclusion sections.
  3. Select key sentences and phrases from your Methods section.
  4. Identify the major results from your Results section.
  5. Now, arrange the sentences and phrases selected in steps 2, 3, and 4 into a single paragraph in the following sequence: Introduction, Methods, Results, and Conclusions.
  6. Make sure that this paragraph does not contain
    • new information that is not present in the paper
    • undefined abbreviations or group names
    • a discussion of previous literature or reference citations
    • unnecessary details about the methods used
  7. Remove all extra information (see step 6) and then link your sentences to ensure that the information flows well, preferably in the following order: purpose; basic study design, methodology and techniques used; major findings; summary of your interpretations, conclusions, and implications.
  8. Confirm that there is consistency between the information presented in the abstract and in the paper.
  9. Ask a colleague to review your abstract and check if the purpose, aim, methods, and conclusions of the study are clearly stated.
  10. Check to see if the final abstract meets the guidelines of the target journal (word limit, type of abstract, recommended subheadings, etc.).

Now revisit your abstract with these steps in mind, and I am sure you will be able to revise it and make it more attractive. Another thing you can do is go back to some of the most interesting papers you have read during your literature review. Do not be surprised if you find that they also happen to have some of the best abstracts you have seen!

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Purpose statements

Dear Participants of ACWRI Course,

I have uploaded a file which includes useful phrases for generating effective purpose statements. I hope that this document (i.e. purpose-statements-useful-expression-i) will prove helpful to you not only with your second assignment but also with your thesis/dissertation.

Once you detect the purpose(s) of each article that you have obtained, you can indicate it/them easily by using the phrases given in the aforementioned file.

I wish you all the best.

Y. Aksoyalp.

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